Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin’s incredible friendship explained
23 September 2021, 16:41
Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin are two of the greatest singers of all time and they shared an extraordinary friendship full of love and support.
Whitney Houston grew up around Aretha Franklin and was inspired by her voice and music. Aretha encouraged Whitney in her talent and their friendship grew as Whitney established herself as an artist.
Aretha had close connections to Whitney’s family and was good friends with her mother Cissy Houston. Aretha and Cissy’s friendship began when Cissy sang backing vocals for Aretha. Cissy would sometimes bring a young Whitney to Aretha’s recording sessions.
In rare interview footage from MTV, Aretha explained her relationship with the Houston family.
She said: “Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston was a very old friend of mine. We’ve sung together many many times, she’s done a lot of background work with me and accompanied me on a number of dates.
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“And we’re old and very good friends and she used to bring Whitney to some of my recording sessions.”
Aretha spoke of meeting Whitney as a child and described her as “shy” and “very lovely”.
“Whitney was, well she still is very young and kind of [a] shy, lovely girl, very nice young lady,” Aretha added.
Aretha also mentioned that she didn’t realise how much Whitney looked up to her and how she impacted her early life.
“I had no idea that Whitney felt as close to me as she does but it’s lovely, it’s fabulous,” she explained.
Aretha and Cissy’s friendship spanned more than half a century and they were close until Aretha passed away in 2018.
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Cissy shared a thoughtful statement in memory of her late friend Aretha when she passed away. Cissy told People that while she would “deeply miss” Aretha, her “soul rejoices” because she was able to see the impact Aretha’s life had on others.
Cissy wrote: “Aretha was my dear friend who I will deeply miss. I have known Aretha for over 50 years, both professionally as her back up singer and then as a friend.
“We have shared heartbreak, loss, as well as exaltation and great laughter and most importantly our mutual love of God.
“Although my heart is broken, my soul rejoices that I was able to watch God move through Aretha’s life. God bless you Re, I will always love you.”
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In 2014, Aretha shared an emotional tribute to Whitney before singing a cover of her iconic song ‘I Will Always Love You’.
The Queen of Soul remembered Whitney who passed away on February 11, 2012 - Aretha spoke fondly of Whitney while playing piano at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in June 2014.
“We look back and we acknowledge one of the finest young singers that ever stepped before a microphone,” she told the audience.
“And whenever we hear these memorable strains, we will think of and remember her.”